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Olive Garden
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A co-worker wanted to treat me to lunch because I helped her out with her work load fairly significantly. I told her it wasn't necessary and actually prefer to pack my lunch. She told me I could pick the restaurant of my choice. She sent me a text message this morning asking where I wanted to go. I told her I'd like to go to Wendy's. She insisted that we go to a nicer restuarant, she wanted to buy me a "real" lunch. I told her I'd never had a problem with Wendy's Chili and a baked potato, and that's where I'd like to go. She insisted that we go to a "nice restaurant". I offerred up Olive Garden. I haven't been there since going gluten-free, but had read they have a gluten-free menu.

We both ordered salad, no croutons, and the server grated parmesan cheese on the salad. I inquired about the gluten-free pasta, because I don't tolerate quinoa. The server checked with the kitchen and manager, and said their pasta was quinoa. I said I'd just have salad then. She recommended grilled chicken and veggies with apricot sauce, but I told her that didn't appear on the gluten-free menu. Dear server went to the kitchen again and said that the sauce had gluten in it, but they could prepare it plain. I agreed.

As the server was presenting our lunches, the manager showed up to make sure that everything was okay. I thanked him for the great service and extra attention. The server was grinding parmesan cheese on my co-workers meal and asked me if I would like some. I said yes, and the manager said "Wait, I'll get you different parmesan cheese." I asked him why, and he said "we do a light coating of flour on our parmesan cheese." I was so astounded and asked why they do that. He said it helps prevent the graters from getting cheese stuck in them.

The server apologized and said she should have known that.

Maybe it won't end up being more that 20 parts per million.

Who would think they'd stick flour in parmesan cheese?

Lessons learned: do not submit to peer pressure and beware of the cheese at Olive Garden. Sheesh! :ph34r:

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I would think it wise to contact Olive Garden and confirm what the manager told you.

Although, good intentioned, that information may or may not be accurate. Or perhaps, piss poor practice at a very marginal restaurant.

http://www.olivegarden.com/menu/gluten-allergen/

https://www.olivegarden.com/About-Us/Contact-Us/

EDIT: I have contacted to company and will post their response asap.

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I so understand! My friend wants me to come to her daughters birthday party which is a cookout. Her and her husband was insisting they would have Nathans hotdogs and wanted me to be able to eat. I thanked them and said it was okay, I didn't have to eat. They were even more insisting...I had to explain their grill has had gluten on it. I don't want to hurt their feelings, however, the next day I am taking a trip and do not want to be sick for half of it. They said they'd wrap it in foil, and I said guys thanks, but no. People mean well, but they have no idea how sick we can get and would prefer to eat where we know we are safe or not eat. I'm so glad you posted this. I wouldn't have thought that either.

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Thanks Lisa, I actually asked the server to show me the cheese. She flipped opened the top of her grater, and the cheese was in fact "dusted" with flour. The manager returned with some shaved parmesan on a plate for my lunch.

My co-worker said the flour was only on the top, so it should be okay. I don't know if it's just a local practice, but it blew my hair back, and I was wearing a hat!

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Thanks Lisa, I actually asked the server to show me the cheese. She flipped opened the top of her grater, and the cheese was in fact "dusted" with flour. The manager returned with some shaved parmesan on a plate for my lunch.

My co-worker said the flour was only on the top, so it should be okay. I don't know if it's just a local practice, but it blew my hair back, and I was wearing a hat!

I expect that it would! :blink:

Whether it's a site practice or general policy, I am on a mission to find out. It's unacceptable either way!

BUT...I will await the Corporate response, before I make rash judgements. B)

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Dusted with flour to prevent sticking? Not likely. Wet flour acts as a glue. When an anti-stick agent is added to shredded or ground cheese, it is almost always cellulose. Cellulose is gluten-free.

I'm not saying this place isn't dumb enough to try flour, just saying that it would not work.

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Dusted with flour to prevent sticking? Not likely. Wet flour acts as a glue. When an anti-stick agent is added to shredded or ground cheese, it is almost always cellulose. Cellulose is gluten-free.

I'm not saying this place isn't dumb enough to try flour, just saying that it would not work.

Exactly. Which is the scary part.

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I so understand! My friend wants me to come to her daughters birthday party which is a cookout. Her and her husband was insisting they would have Nathans hotdogs and wanted me to be able to eat. I thanked them and said it was okay, I didn't have to eat. They were even more insisting...I had to explain their grill has had gluten on it. I don't want to hurt their feelings, however, the next day I am taking a trip and do not want to be sick for half of it. They said they'd wrap it in foil, and I said guys thanks, but no. People mean well, but they have no idea how sick we can get and would prefer to eat where we know we are safe or not eat. I'm so glad you posted this. I wouldn't have thought that either.

That's it in a nutshell. DP said, "Aw, you caved in amd we had safe salmon and grilled chicken leftovers here you could have made a great lunch with." He was upset that I didn't stick to my guns about Wendy's. Maybe I won't be sick, but it's stressful just wondering if I will be, and I could have had a perfectly wonderful lunch if I'd packed it. (Romaine lettuce and cucumber slices, sliced charcoal grilled chicken, olives, hearts of palm, basil viniagrette with blue cheese.) I'm not feeling anything yet except tingling ears, so maybe it will be ok. But I agree, kip, it's not worth it. Our guts are more important than social niceties.

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Dusted with flour to prevent sticking? Not likely. Wet flour acts as a glue. When an anti-stick agent is added to shredded or ground cheese, it is almost always cellulose. Cellulose is gluten-free.

I'm not saying this place isn't dumb enough to try flour, just saying that it would not work.

Although I understand your concern Marilyn, I tend to agree with Peter. It would make no sense to dust cheese with one of the main allergens on a serving that is declared gluten free. Many graded cheeses that you find in the grocery store have cellulose as an anti-caking ingredient. They look similar i.e. cellulose/flour.

But then....stupid happens. <_< I'll let you know when I receive a response.

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Wow...I recently ate at Olive Garden. Thanks for posting this info. :)

A co-worker wanted to treat me to lunch because I helped her out with her work load fairly significantly. I told her it wasn't necessary and actually prefer to pack my lunch. She told me I could pick the restaurant of my choice. She sent me a text message this morning asking where I wanted to go. I told her I'd like to go to Wendy's. She insisted that we go to a nicer restuarant, she wanted to buy me a "real" lunch. I told her I'd never had a problem with Wendy's Chili and a baked potato, and that's where I'd like to go. She insisted that we go to a "nice restaurant". I offerred up Olive Garden. I haven't been there since going gluten-free, but had read they have a gluten-free menu.

We both ordered salad, no croutons, and the server grated parmesan cheese on the salad. I inquired about the gluten-free pasta, because I don't tolerate quinoa. The server checked with the kitchen and manager, and said their pasta was quinoa. I said I'd just have salad then. She recommended grilled chicken and veggies with apricot sauce, but I told her that didn't appear on the gluten-free menu. Dear server went to the kitchen again and said that the sauce had gluten in it, but they could prepare it plain. I agreed.

As the server was presenting our lunches, the manager showed up to make sure that everything was okay. I thanked him for the great service and extra attention. The server was grinding parmesan cheese on my co-workers meal and asked me if I would like some. I said yes, and the manager said "Wait, I'll get you different parmesan cheese." I asked him why, and he said "we do a light coating of flour on our parmesan cheese." I was so astounded and asked why they do that. He said it helps prevent the graters from getting cheese stuck in them.

The server apologized and said she should have known that.

Maybe it won't end up being more that 20 parts per million.

Who would think they'd stick flour in parmesan cheese?

Lessons learned: do not submit to peer pressure and beware of the cheese at Olive Garden. Sheesh! :ph34r:

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I did, in fact get glutened. :ph34r:

Threw up 3 times at 10:30 a.m., 22 hours after the lunch, and I still have nausea and no appetitite.

Peter & Lisa, I used to avoid buying grated cheeses because I didn't know what cellulose was. I've been able to tolerate grated, bagged cheeses from the dairy section without a problem for months. The server grated the cheese on my salad, not the kitchen staff.

If I was only experiencing neuro symptoms, I could attribute that to a Lupus flare, but since I have the GI symptoms, I'm pretty certain its gluten. And the server specifically apologized for having shredded the cheese on my salad, stating she should have known not to do that. I told her I wouldn't have known not to do that either, and that I'd probably be fine, since it had to be a very small amount of flour.

I'm really interested in what Olive Garden says. Co-worker never called to see if I was okay, as far as social niceties go. :P (LOL)

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So sorry that you got 'hit' Marilyn. :(

I can't help but wonder if this is a practice at your particular Olive Garden. It's hard for me to understand that this could be common practice nationally.

I have not received a reply and hopefully I will in the next day or so. I searched for a phone number for corporate customer relations, but no.

The Celiac Community needs to know! ;) Hope for a speedy recovery!

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I know this won't help, but no matter how difficult, you have to stick to your guns.

I went to the birthday party of a dear friend, "guys night out party" and the steaks were 2 inches thick, grilled potatoes, etc etc and I had to turn it down. It was tough to be left out, but I still enjoyed myself...especially knowing that I ate at Chipotle beforehand and needn't worry about be c/c'd.

Even though "they" don't understand that it's a hassle to actually worry for 24 hours to see if you actually get sick, we sure know the truth.

Feel better and chalk it up to experience.

PS: Here's a hint I use when someone is pressuring me, I say "I have to think of it this way, it's like you eating 1/2 cooked chicken and wondering what the results might be". That usually gets them off my back! :-)

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So sorry that you got 'hit' Marilyn. :(

I can't help but wonder if this is a practice at your particular Olive Garden. It's hard for me to understand that this could be common practice nationally.

I have not received a reply and hopefully I will in the next day or so. I searched for a phone number for corporate customer relations, but no.

The Celiac Community needs to know! ;) Hope for a speedy recovery!

I'll be fine. We all take a lickin' now and then and keep on ticking. I'd never still be up at this hour but my neuro symptoms have kicked in full blast! That server and the manager of Olive Market didn't seem like they just fell off the Turnip Truck.

My guess is that they were following procedure, except that the server made a mistake. I could be wrong. Both were competant and attentive even though we had lunch during peak season in a tourist destination and right dead center in the middle of lunch hour. I could be wrong, I could have a rogue Olive Garden in my neck of the woods, in which case I apologize for smearing thier reputation.

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So sorry that you got 'hit' Marilyn. :(

I can't help but wonder if this is a practice at your particular Olive Garden. It's hard for me to understand that this could be common practice nationally.

I have not received a reply and hopefully I will in the next day or so. I searched for a phone number for corporate customer relations, but no.

The Celiac Community needs to know! ;) Hope for a speedy recovery!

I used your earlier link to contact them tonight. Did they ever respond to you, Lisa?

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Wow! I wonder if they all put flour on the cheese? We have had problems with them bringing a salad with a lone crouton then trying to just pick it off. Or acting annoyed when we ask for a special salad. I didn't know about the quiona either. Hmmm... I have had the gluten-free pasta and it didn't taste like quinoa. My daughter can't have quinoa. So I guess that place is out for us!

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I used your earlier link to contact them tonight. Did they ever respond to you, Lisa?

No nothing! <_<

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Usually these types of stories -- especially wheat in cheese stories -- turn out to be untrue, but of course I wouldn't eat it until we hear from OG.

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I received a reply back tonight from Lisa's link to corporate Olive Garden. It isn't standard operating procedure to dust the parmesan cheese with flour. They said they'd follow up.

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I received a reply back tonight from Lisa's link to corporate Olive Garden. It isn't standard operating procedure to dust the parmesan cheese with flour. They said they'd follow up.

YES!

Marilyn, could you post their reply or in parts that you feel appropriate?

Thank you so much for your reply and maybe???? in the near future you can eat there with comfort.

Yea! I love warriors, as we all are. :D

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In general, do not waste your time on olive garden's Gluten-Free pasta and sauce. It is so nasty! My dad was in the navy for 24 yrs and i have had better pasta on the ship when we visited him. OG's pasta was mushy and the sauce tasted of ketchup. They do prepare it separetly in the microwave and i did did not get sick from the few bites i ate. The manager agreed with me that it was the worst thing on the menu. She was gracious enough to remove it from my bill, but why serve it in the first place. I contacted corporate, but they stood behind their product. I just do not want anyone to waste their time eating this. It is by far the worst Gluten-Free meal i have ever had.

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My daughter and I went to Olive Garden last week and both asked for the gluten free menus. We placed our orders, I mad my substitutions based on other allergies/sensitivities. The server was really nice! As we were eating, my daughter asked for a side of broccoli. The server very kindly told her that THE BROCCOLI IS COOKED IN THE PASTA WATER!!! I don't know if the zuccini was also, or if they also dust their cheese in flour, but I've been sick 5 days since I went there.

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Just want to let everyone know, my daughters and I just say down to eat at Olive Garden, ordered from the gluten free menu provided, and I chose to double check for the cheese (I've been burned by 'trusting' the restaurant biz too many times!).

I saw this thread about the cheese, so when the salad came out and the sever offered cheese, I asked her about it being dusted with flour. She politely reassured me that they do not dust it with flour themselves, but when I asked, said she could double check. Sure enough, it comes pre-packaged that way. They went and read the ingredients list on the box, and yes, it is indeed coated. DON'T EAT IT! ;)

Thankful for this forum as a heads up- saved me days of pain and misery!

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What specifically was it coated with? Coating it with flour would make it clump and stick together. I have never seen wheat flour on shredded or grated cheese.

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Just want to let everyone know, my daughters and I just say down to eat at Olive Garden, ordered from the gluten free menu provided, and I chose to double check for the cheese (I've been burned by 'trusting' the restaurant biz too many times!).

I saw this thread about the cheese, so when the salad came out and the sever offered cheese, I asked her about it being dusted with flour. She politely reassured me that they do not dust it with flour themselves, but when I asked, said she could double check. Sure enough, it comes pre-packaged that way. They went and read the ingredients list on the box, and yes, it is indeed coated. DON'T EAT IT! ;)

Thankful for this forum as a heads up- saved me days of pain and misery!

OMG, it's coated!  Panic.. :o:P   No.... seriously, the coating would not/is not be gluten based.

 

Most likey it's dusted with cellulose, a non gluten issue. A very common practice, and no reason for concern.

 

The grated cheese is just fine for all people with Celiac or those with a gluten intolerance. :)

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